I’m fresh home from a writing retreat in the mountains…and am once again reminded how it’s possible to find strength through retreat.

It’s become a annual tradition for several members of my local writers’ group to escape the everyday chaos for a few days at the beginning of November and again in January. We check in to a resort on the creek, pull out our laptops, and write. And write. And brainstorm. And plot. And write some more.

The basic rules are quiet writing time all day until we gather for dinner at a local restaurant. A dinner filled with reports of what we’ve gotten done, group brainstorming to solve story problems, and lots of laughter…until we break again for an evening of writing. Or reading.

Creativity plus accountability plus a dedicated time and place usually add up to significant progress on our stories with momentum that carries us down the mountain and on through the next weeks.

After all the personal chaos this summer and fall of trying to move and family health issues (and bills!), I wasn’t sure how much writing I would actually be able to get done this trip. It all depended on how much brain power I had. In fact, I told my friends I might spend the few days reading and napping in order to refill my creative well.

Except, there’s just something about getting away from the stress and all of life’s demands. Retreating from the pressure and responsibilities with the intention to simply rest, recharge, and see what God wanted for me.

Instead of an aggressive word count goal, I approached this trip with open hands and gave myself permission to read a book or stare out the window if that’s what I needed. And instead of perfect words and complete sentences, I gave my creativity permission to romp through a fast draft, knowing that whatever words were added to the story were more than I’d started the weekend with.

And at the conclusion of the weekend, I found myself well rested. Having finished reading a book. Encouraged to keep telling the stories on my heart thanks to another writer who used her down time to read Sing a New Song. And shocked to find I’d added almost 8000 words over three days while closing in on Act III of the story arc.

There’s something powerful about stepping away from the busy chaos and striving. Of just plopping down in an open space and resting. Of being strengthened by and surrounded by God and friends pursuing a common goal.

Strength through retreat.

(And in case you’re curious, the picture with this post was taken during a brain break walk through the town of Estes Park. In the middle of the chaos of tourists and cars, these elk found a place to rest.)

Strength Through Retreat ~ Lessons From the Mountains
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